Pre Med 101 – Know What You Need to Get Into Medical School

5 million, 100 thousand. The annual salary of a physician? The cost of medical school? Nope. It’s the total number of posts in a popular pre med forum. I don’t know about you, but when you are studying for the MCAT, trying to ace every exam, and squeezing every last second into volunteering, you DO NOT have that much time left over to search for answers. That’s why we have given you this reliable, up-to-date source of pre med information.

We want to help develop informed, confident and prepared pre med students. With our single site resource of all the pre med resources you need, we hope to save you time, frustration and even some money.

Please share this with your friends – and even your family and all the answers they will ask you will be answered.

High School Years

The thoughts of becoming a physician and starting your premed career can begin long before you start college. Early exposure to the medical field usually spurs interest in high school students. No matter how you decided to start your path to becoming a physician, most of the steps to graduating medical school are the same.

When still in high school, you can start to build your experiences to help you do many things:

  • Do you want to go to medical school? The path to medical school is LONG and challenging. The sooner you can figure out if you are ready and willing to take the leap, the better you will be.
  • Build a strong resume of volunteering and other unique life experiences to help set you apart from your peers.

AP Credit for Medical School

The question that always comes up – “Do medical schools accept Advanced Placement (AP) credit?” Unfortunately it is not an easy answer. Some medical schools accept AP credit. Many will not accept AP credit to satisfy pre med admissions requirements. Even if the medical school you are interested in applying to accepts AP credit, you will be a stronger applicant if you take the college course and ignore the AP credit. It is generally accepted that a college level course is more challenging than a high school AP course and better predicts your ability to be successful in medical school classes. Also, even if you have already received AP credit in high school and the medical school accepts the AP credit, repeating the course in college will be good for your MCAT prep.

Choosing a Pre Med School

The first anxiety provoking decision when it comes to your pre med path is choosing what pre med school you should go to. If you google “best premed schools” you come up with over 2 million sites that claim to give you a top 10 list and the latest and greatest pre med school that is guaranteed to get you into medical school. Check out our article about pre med schools HERE.

It does not matter what pre med school you attend to get your undergraduate training. Again, it DOES NOT matter if you go to the best pre med school or not. The only thing that matters is that you are in an environment that YOU can be successful in. You may think it is hard to believe that it doesn’t matter, but once you are in medical school and see the vast diversity of your classmates you will agree that it does not matter if you went to Harvard or a small liberal arts college.

[Pros and Cons of Liberal Arts colleges for the premed]

The simple recipe to get into medical school:

  • Get great grades in your pre-req classes
  • Have a solid plan for your MCAT prep and get a competitive score
  • Give yourself plenty of time for extraordinary volunteering experiences

Medical School Prerequisites at Community College

Similar to the discussion of AP credit in high school, taking community college courses for your pre med requirements can be a risky proposition. Every medical school has its own policies on accepting community college credit. You do not want to be left worried about squeezing in one more class prior to graduating to get your prerequisites for medical school met. This is another situation where you should call around to each medical school you want to attend and find out what their policy is on accepting community college credits.

College Years

Picking the Best Pre Med Major

If I told you that there are only 2 majors that you can major in for medical school, biology and chemistry, what would you say? Lucky for you, I would be lying. Why suffer through physical and biological science majors when only 63% of students accepted to medical school have those types of majors?

So what is the best major for medical school? We covered that question HERE.

Is there a “Pre Med Major?”

Many people quickly state that there is no such thing as a pre med major. This would be inaccurate. While most schools don’t offer a specific pre med major, there are some colleges and universities that do offer pre med as a major. As we already stated, it doesn’t matter what you major in, so finding a college that offers pre med as a major is not important.

When do you Need to Get an Advisor, study for the MCAT and more questions about the timeline

The pre med process should go off like a well choreographed dance. Unfortunately it typically is more like a waltz performed with someone with two left feet. Having a plan, and following that plan is essential. We put together a pretty comprehensive Timeline for Medical School to help you create that plan. Here you will learn when you should be talking to your pre med advisor, getting involved with volunteering, and preparing for the MCAT.

Pre Med Advisors

Along with our timeline, the other invaluable resource will be your Pre-Health Advisor. Just remember that a lot of their advice is generalized and you must take the time to do your own homework to validate some of the advice.

Volunteering

A very important aspect of your application is your volunteer experience. You need to take your time and find worthwhile, enjoyable opportunities that you can spend quality time with. One solid, quality experience that spans several months or more is much more valuable than several one-day volunteering gigs that you do just to fluff up your application. Remember that during your medical school interview, you will discuss many of these volunteering experiences. A memorable volunteering opportunity will show as you talk and your interviewer will be able to see how much it meant to you.

The MCAT

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is the test that can make or break you. With roughly 25 test dates a year, the MCAT challenges your core knowledge of the classes that medical schools require. MCAT prep can be a second full-time job, after being a full-time student, which is why you need a solid plan when preparing for it. When you are ready, check out the 2014 MCAT test dates and register for the MCAT. Also take a look at the NEW MCAT2015.

MCAT Score

A MCAT Score of 30 or greater gives you a 70% chance of getting into medical school. This does not take into account your GPA, so if you follow the source link you can see what your chances would be when you factor in your GPA. Check out more information about your MCAT score HERE.

MCAT Prep

The MCAT is the gate keeper to medical school. Score well and your chances are much better to get into medical school. Do poorly and you will be struggling to get your foot in the door. Online MCAT Courses, one-on-one private tutoring and self-studying are just a few ways to prepare for the MCAT. We covered many of the ways to prepare for the MCAT HERE. We also have a page showing everything that Kaplan has to offer for the MCAT.

Choosing a Medical School

After you rock the MCAT, it is time to start narrowing down your choices of medical schools to apply to. Every year there are more medical schools opening their doors and getting accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

Every year with the release of the US News Best Medical Schools report, thousands of pre med students update their application and the list of medical schools that they will submit their primary AMCAS application to. Unfortunately this medical school rankings report is a flawed system. We are working on a system to help improve this!

Caribbean Medical Schools

Sometimes, even with the best effort and all the best planning, getting into a US Medical School is not going to happen. While many look negatively upon Caribbean Medical Schools, they are a viable option that can produce good physicians. As a graduate of a Caribbean Medical School, you are considered a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG), which does put you at a disadvantage when applying to a residency program. Remember, it’s not the name of the medical school that creates a good physician, it’s the effort that each student puts in that forms the solid foundation of tomorrows physicians. There are some very important things to know when applying to Caribbean Medical Schools, so we discussed a lot of those HERE.

Applying to Medical School

Primary Medical School Applications

Medical school applications are one of first necessary evils in the pre med process. The AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service), AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) and the TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service) are the three main medical school application services in the U.S.

They all can be very intimidating. We have a great AMCAS application guide and are working on the others.

Medical School Personal Statements

Your medical school personal statement is the first personal statement of many. The AMCAS, AACOMAS and TMDSAS all require a personal statement to be submitted with the primary application. Many secondary medical school applications also require another essay to be included. After medical school you will need personal statements for your residency applications as well.

The one key thing to remember is that personal statements are exactly that, personal. The moment you start writing your personal statement for the admissions committees is the moment it is no longer personal.

Secondary Medical School Applications

After you submit your AMCAS, AACOMAS or TMDSAS applications you will start receiving secondary medical school applications in the mail. These secondary applications are another level of filtering for medical schools when they rank their applicants. For many medical schools, every applicant who submits a primary application will get a secondary application. This benefits the schools in many ways. The first benefit is money. Secondary applications cost money to submit. The cost of secondary applications is anywhere from $40 to $120 or more. The second benefit is that reduces some of the burden of sifting through applications because not everybody will return a secondary application.

The Medical School Interview

The primary medical school applications is submitted, secondaries are complete and paid for and now you start getting requests for interviews. This is the first moment of elation during the whole process because now you know a medical school is actually considering accepting you. You are one step closer to being a doctor. Then you realize that the medical school interview is another hurdle that separates the strong all-around candidates vs the socially awkward introverts. Remember, medical schools want a student that can not only properly diagnose a patient, but also communicate with the patient. Preparing for the medical school interview is just as important as preparing for the MCAT. We put together 10 solid medical school interview tips to help give you a head start. Here is a list of the 10 common questions you'll get during the medical school interview.

Along with the basic medical school interview tips, Caribbean medical schools have some different interview nuances. We also have come tips when going for your caribbean medical school interviews.

Medical School Tuition

Medical school tuition varies greatly with each state and each school. State schools will almost always cost less than private medical school tuition. Medical school tuition starts around $15,000 for most in-state residents. Of course there is also the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences School of Medicine if you want to go to medical school for free. Non-resident medical school tuition can be upwards of $60,000. Remember, this doesn’t include books, fees and living expenses. Medical school costs can add up quickly, with the average debt of graduating medical students in 2011 was $161,290 according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

Medical School Scholarships

As you can see, the average debt of medical students is quite large. Add interest and you will payback almost a quarter of a million dollars! Medical school scholarships can help you defer some of that cost. There are many sources of money for medical school scholarships and finding all of those sources can be overwhelming. We give you some good information on medical school scholarships here.

Keep Checking back

We are constantly working at added new, valuable content to help guide you through the process. If there is anything you think you need, please let us know. We are also looking for ideas on new content. You can leave us a voicemail at (617) 410–6747 or send us an email through the site